As of December 31, 2020, 29,400 COVID related workers compensation claims were filed in the State of Florida, including 13,409 claims filed by Health Care workers and educators. Unfortunately, as only State employees are presently covered for COVID related claims, 43% of all claims filed related to COVID benefits were denied.
The Florida legislature has considered legislation that would make it easier for state employees to establish COVID related worker’s compensation benefits. Specifically, the amendment, which has not been passed as of April 2021, would decrease the burden of proof to include a presumption that physicians, nurses, dentists, or emergency medical personnel, and people who worked at clinical labs, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and nursing homes who test positive for COVID-19 contracted it at work.
As it stands at present, while Worker’s Compensation laws provide compensation for “occupational diseases” that arise out of and in the course and scope of employment, only Frontline State Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits under an Executive Order issued on March 30, 2020. This Executive Order expired as of Jan 1, 2022. As such, as it presently stands, COVID exposures AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2021 ARE NOT COMPENSABLE IN FLORIDA.
Basically to allege entitlement to workers compensation benefits in Florida, you must be a part of one of the following three categories:
- The employee is a first responder, law enforcement official, firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician, paramedic; or
- The employee is a correctional officer or another employee whose official duties require the physical presence in a state operated detention facility; or
- The employee is a state employee working in the healthcare field.